Jan 18, 2012

Lead Levels Successfully Reduced in School Districts' Drinking Water

U.S. EPA announces lower lead levels in drinking water at schools in New Jersey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and three New Jersey school districts, has successfully lowered lead levels in drinking water at elementary schools in Union City, Atlantic City and Weehawken, N.J., to below EPA-recommended levels.

Initial sampling by EPA found elevated lead levels in drinking water at 28 of the 343 school drinking outlets sampled. “With so many children exposed to lead-based paint in their homes, it is especially important to reduce any additional lead that could enter their growing bodies through drinking water. EPA worked closely with DEP and the three school districts to identify the lead problem and make sure that the health of students in the affected schools was protected,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.

In June 2010, EPA tested drinking water outlets for lead at nine Union City schools and the day care facility in Union City High School. Of the 166 outlets tested, 17 were found to be dispensing water that contained lead above EPA-recommended levels. Of the 34 outlets tested in the Weehawken school district, three were found with high levels of lead. In Atlantic City, 145 outlets were tested and eight found with lead above EPA-recommended levels.

Since the initial testing, all districts took action to remediate the sources of lead and EPA retested the outlets in late summer of 2011. The Union City and Atlantic City school districts plan to engage in a long-term lead-monitoring program that will incorporate schools in the districts that have not yet been tested for lead in drinking water.